I want to share my personal experience how I found my way out of skin picking and self punishment. How I embraced the gift of life and myself. First a bit of a history. But very brief with not much details. I have been picking on my skin since I was 18 years old. I am 35 now. I grew up in a middle class family in Soviet Union (now Ukraine). My parents were doctors and very busy people. They tried to do their best for 3 of us. I am the youngest in the family. But as usually my parents were trying their best and their best is not always the same as “the best” means in child’s mind. I felt on my own and lonely, not much attention, not much love . I thought nobody cared of what I was going through, how was I dealing with my mates at school, how I was dealing with my friends, what bothered me, what made me happy. Nobody ever cared. Or maybe they cared but I never saw it. I also was left with my grandma in my early ages. When at age 5 1/2 I joined my family I felt already a big disconnect. Especially from my mom. I perceived her as cold and not loving. I thought she love my sister more than me. I thought she cared more for my brother and my sister than me. Of course it was not true, but as a very vulnerable child I could not understand that my mother was very busy and stressed, unhappy, overscheduled herself. She was an orphan herself, she did not get much love herself, she just never knew how to give love. She needed love herself! She was trying to earn money and provide for us. My dad was the same. They were working and working and nobody really had time for kids. All family was like a working machine, never relaxing, there was always stuff to do. If not work or school than tiding up and working in the garden and helping grandma. My parents where caught in some perpetual working, doing things and never looking around that the sky was blue or the sun actually was shining and life is not only about running around and doing errands. But could they understand a better life if nobody told them that there is something better. I understand my parents now and I finally accepted them the way they are and made my peace with them in my mind. I love them just the way they are and happy for what they gave me. This is one part of my recovery. Inner peace with parents! Anyway as I was growing up I kind of did not realize that I would be a woman. I was kind of disconnected from life, somewhere there flying. I loved fairytales. I just kind of thought that I am just what I am and I have no age, and I am just a soul with no gender. I am coming from the family which never spoke about sex. Sex was a taboo. I really did not expect to grow up as a woman with sexual desires. I honestly thought that I just somehow appeared in this world, and that my parents do not have sex for a long time. Anyway I started to have my period and I was so confused. I was like, why do I get this. My friends at school also grew up in similar families so we all, I think, were getting rather uncomfortable with ourselves. So self rejection started for me in early childhood. When you feel unloved and when you try to act and to pretend just to get some attention, just to be in the center for a moment, just to be unique. Then you go through teen ages and the self rejection becomes even more vast. You realize that the disconnect with the parents is so vast that they will never understand you. You think anybody on the street is far closer to you than you parents. And sex? What is it? How can I talk to my parents about sex if I think they do not do it and they think it is dirty and inappropriate. Also all your family is trying very hard to mold you into something they think you should be. They just suppress any creativity in you and any cry for freedom in you. You get criticized and punished and abused for what you are. I was criticized and abused for going out with boys. I was shamed by my family that I was a “bad girl” by going out with boys. I was bitten up by my older brother for coming home late. I thought something was wrong with me. I could not understand why I am attracted to boys and why I want to have sex with them. My family wanted me to get married and have sex only when I am married. But I just could not understand why I should do what they say. Besides at that time I really did not meet my true love yet, so was just looking to find my true love. But I was getting criticized for everything I was doing. As a result I started to hate myself and even tried to commit suicide when I was 18 years old. I do not know but somehow I managed to live. But started picking very badly. I actually had a clean beautiful skin with a few black spots. I ruined it. I hated myself. I think what kept me alive is my success in mathematics. It was the only thing I could do without any criticism. And I was good at it. But I think gradually I started to hate math as well. I think I picked to study math full time only to attract attention. It was not a true me. So I was in the wrong place, doing wrong subject and acting and pretending somebody just to fit so I do not get abused and punished. And then finally God had his mercy I won green card and moved to United State. Free country! I thought this is where the people do what they want, they work hard and they realize their dreams. But I really did not know what my dreams are. Nobody ever told me to listen to myself. Nobody told me that I am actually supposed to be myself in this world and live my life, and be happy. I thought that if I just get away from my family and get financially secure so nobody tells me what to do I would be fine. I was picking very badly, but on and off. I could hold my picking if I had to do something important. Anyway I managed to get a very nice job in US. But I was still unhappy. I was like why I am unhappy. I tried buying myself everything what I want, I changed a few boyfriends, I did yoga. But I was unhappy and picking. I thought I was a freak and could not share with anybody. The true revelation started when I had a huge conflict at work and I was like people hate me and I hate everybody as well. I thought to myself I will never return to this job. I took all my stuff and left never to return back. I drank a bottle of wine with my boyfriend that night. In the morning I woke up with huge headache. I was trying to sit up and suddenly I looked at myself from the other side. I was looking at myself and thinking who am I, who I became. Angry lady, very angry. Angry at everything and everybody. I thought if everybody is against me maybe it is me who is against everybody. So I got up, called in sick and asked my friend for some self-help books she mentioned long time ago. I managed to find the courage and agree that I was wrong and ask for apology from my coworkers. I understood that I am in control of my life. And negative thoughts attract negative situations. My life was unhappy because of me. Nobody did anything to me wrong. It was me with wrong thoughts, wrong assumptions, jumping to wrong conclusions, with low self-esteem, zero self-esteem, probably in negative numbers! Slowly I started to fix my life. I started to believe in myself. I started to talk to myself to understand what makes me unhappy. I started to understand the law of karma, the law of attraction. With my thinking patterns I could not attract anything better than I had. I had to change. Now after 3 years since my first revelation about my true self I finally quit picking and I am able to face reality. I was on the quest to find out why I pick. I realized that I just loved to go away from life and go somewhere where I can control. This was picking. I realized that once I go there I do not want to return. So I have to make enough changes so I am happy to be here and live here rather than going somewhere I do not know where. I changed my job. Now I am perusing my dream which I had in my mind for many years and was scary to pursue. I finally told myself that if I try nothing wrong will happen even if I fail. If I do not try I will always be unhappy that I never even gave myself a chance. I told myself that I have to give myself a chance. I have to start accepting myself. I have to give myself a change to be myself. I have to stop acting. In fact I cannot act anymore. So reading the books I want, doing what I want for a living (maybe not much money but happy job) and just having my face with no makeup and covering. Here is a summary what I have done:
1. I realized inside myself self that I have to quit picking and was determined to go and do anything to understand why I pick and to find the true cure. No tablets for me. I truly believe in holistic way to healing. Ask the Universe and your Higher Self to help you to guide you to find your solution! You will be amazed how your life will change. You just stop reading my story here. You Higher self will bring to your attention the right books, the right psychologists etc. In my case my husband was so against me going to the psychologist and hypnotherapists that I realized that this is the message, I have to deal with it myself. And I am so glad I did. I think you all can do it on your own! Do not give your energy to anyone, do not give the joy of finding your true self and your inner strength to anyone. It is yours. It belongs to you! You can do it! Believe in yourself. Start telling yourself that you just love yourself just the way you are. You are already perfect, all cures and all answers are inside you, not outside! Just think of people who conquered cancer, think of people who are disabled for the rest of their life yet they choose to be happy and not live their life in misery, think of Stephen Hawking who is my example. This guy is a theoretical physicist and he is completely paralyzed and cannot even talk properly yet he still works and lives! I thought if Stephen Hawking is living and finds the courage to face his reality, I can do it as well. It is not that scary after all.
2. I started to learn myself. Who am I? What is my purpose on this Earth? What makes me happy? What makes me unhappy? I gave myself a chance to be myself. For so many years I practiced self rejection. It was time to give it a shot to myself. I thought hey why not just be myself. But I had to understand what is myself. Cause for so many years of rejection I did not even know myself. So with patience learn yourself. Also keep telling yourself that you are learning to doing your best to come down your inner critic. Here are the books that helped me:
1. Louise Hay “You can heal your life”
2. Don Miguel Ruiz “The four agreements”
3. Hal and Sidra Stone “Embracing ourselves: The voice dialog manual” - great book to understand that we consist of multiple selves which all of them have to embraced and not rejected.
4. Learn how you can forgive everybody who did wrong to you and the most important forgive yourself! Stop self punishment. It will take time. But every time you thing wrong words about yourself change them to positive!
5. I started practicing relaxation. I stopped forcing myself in doing anything Of course it happen gradually. Be prepared to take your time to change. But just do it. Little by little. Learn why you are anxious, why you are uptight. Do you have to be it like that or maybe just relax and let things happen and fix themselves. It is amazing how things fix themselves. I read that 90% of our problems are just problems in our minds. They are not true. So start looking around, pay attention to the situations. Do you need to react to them the way you usually do, or maybe the situation is not that bad. Try to look at it from a completely different angle. Maybe you just anxious for no reason. Give people a chance to be nice to you. Maybe you just do not want to see that people are doing their best and so much love is around you. By relaxing and letting things be around you, you free yourself from unnecessary trouble. I do not force myself anymore. Just do little so it brings pleasure. No more have to do it. Just do as much as you can. So I relax for 5 mins or 10 mins. It depends. I listen to myself. When my inner voice tells me enough, I stop and go back to do something different.
6. I use behavior replacement. I dance when I feel stressed and feel the urge to pick. I do not look in the mirrors. Look only if I need to comb my hair and far away from it. I also start singing or making sounds as a horse or rooster if I find my hands somewhere on my body. I than kiss my fingers and tell myself that I love myself. You can take a look at the on line videos on www.stop-compulsive-picking.com. They are not free. Costs about 40$.
7. Positive thinking. Take a look at Louise Hay book “You can heal your life”
8. Active participant of this forum. Thank to everybody who is here! Thanks to people who put this site together!
9. I got the understanding of my skin and how much harm I do to it by picking. I promised not to hurt it anymore. Read a free book on stoppickingonme.com
10. I think of my skin as beautiful, clean. I trust my skin and I trust my body.
11. I still have not found my true destiny. But I keep looking and keep reading the books. Life became interesting. I am looking forward to every new day to learn something new. Yet to understand myself more, what kind of mystery creature I am, what is hidden in me. I love and trust myself. I love how myself is guiding me, how the Universe supports me and helps me to live.
12. Learn to be in stressful situation. Do not ignore it. It will not go away. I learned that I might as well start dealing with them as they occur. Every bad situation teaches me something new. I learn to be in that situation and to learn the right message. Than let it go, really go, not pushing to the background. The self-help books teach you techniques. You have to find your way of letting things go. There are so many methods, look for the proper one for you, you will naturally understand what is for you and what is not for you. Just a bit of trust to yourself.
13. I picked up a few psychic techniques which allow you to ground yourself and release unwanted energy. Read more in Debra Katz book “You are psychic”.
14. Loving relationship. We all need love. I change how I think about men. By changing my thoughts about that I was able to meet my soul mate, which is blessing from God. Everybody can do it, you just have to wish for it and also realize what is preventing you from meeting that person. In my case I had just wrong opinion about men, trust issue etc. I had to replace it with positive thoughts. Louise Hay book can help.
15. I embraced my sexuality. I am no longer ashamed that I am a woman and that I want to be with man. In my case I learned a valuable lesson. I found my true love. Sex is so beautiful when you are in love. It makes life so full and enjoyable. To give pleasure and receive please at the same time! This is a true love. I love my husband and love our sex life. I think realizing your sexual fantasies is a key. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Sex is wired into our brain and rejecting it is just against nature.
16. Do not give up, never give up in yourself. I found that dealing with picking made me stronger, made me a better person. I learned valuable lessons which I would never even looked into if it was not for picking. So as the old saying sais everything is for the best. You will get to your solution. Look for it!
God bless you! Feel free to ask any questions.